Amazon Fire TV Cube puts Alexa in control of your home entertainment

Amazon launches Echo Look in U.S., could popularize computer vision via Alexa

The Fire TV Cube is outfitted with eight microphones for far-field voice recognition, so that it can hear you from across the room. Plus, control your TV, sound bar, cable or satellite box, receiver, and more with just your voice. The digital media player, which can be controlled by Amazon's popular voice software, costs $119 and can toggle between streaming services, live television, and some of Alexa's range of other abilities.

Fire TV users could use their voices to make requests by holding down on the remote, but this is the first time it's entirely hands-free. TiVo not only lets you use Alexa to control its DVR, but was recently giving away a free Echo with the purchase of a TiVo box.

Fire TV Cube, unveiled Thursday morning, is a small box created to sit next to TV sets, enabling hands-free controls of the television and providing many - but not all - of the features available in the company's Alexa-enabled Echo smart speakers. Even with the TV off, simply say "Alexa, play Billions on SHOWTIME" and Fire TV Cube powers on your TV and starts playback right where you left off. You can enjoy thousands of channels, apps, and Alexa controls. Otherwise, you may have to wait and hope that it is an Amazon Prime Day deal too.

Adding the more-complex Alexa features has changed the look of the Fire TV.

As smart and useful as our TV sets have gotten, how we interact with them remains quite dumb.

Still, the Fire TV Cube's remote-killing capabilities will have some limitations, at least for now.

Continuing its quest to eliminate the mundane tasks of life, you can now tell Amazon's voice assistant Alexa to change the channel without a remote. This means that it's possible to ask Alexa on the Cube to "tune to CBS", prompting it to send commands to the cable box and switch to that channel.

There will be more to the story, so be sure to stay tuned in for more details.

But the FireTV Cube goes beyond online streaming.

"I've believed in this for the last 20 years", Whitten said. The NPD Group found that Roku's average selling price was less than $50, suggesting that most customers also opt for the company's cheaper streaming sticks. There's Ultra HD, HDR10 and Dolby Atmos support, but no mention of Dolby Vision or HDR10+ - despite Amazon having thrown its weight behind the new format. It is, however, still less than the $150 Apple TV. While Apple's market share is holding steady at 15% according to Parks Associates, cheaper products from Roku and Amazon respectively make up 37% and 28% of streaming player usage among USA broadband homes.

Unfortunately a "traditional Amazon Fire TV experience" also extends to there being no official YouTube app, which puts something of a dampener on the idea of the Fire TV Cube being the one home theatre device to rule them all. "We think this is enough of a game-changer that customers are really going to like it".

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